10 Fascinating facts about Yves Saint Laurent

The French fashion designer Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, who is better known worldwide as Yves Saint Laurent, was born on 1 August 1936 and died June 1, 2008. He has been called the most consistently celebrated and influential designer ever and is regarded as one of the greatest names in fashion design. You know the name and you know the label, but how much do you know about the man himself? Here are ten facts about Yves Saint Laurent that you may not have known:

1. He started in fashion as a boy

Yves Saint Laurent had an eye for fashion from a very young age and he started his career by designing dresses for his two sisters and his mother. The world of fashion design was opened up to him, when his mother took him to Paris, at the age of seventeen, to meet the editor of French Vogue, Michael DeBrunhoff.

2. He was bullied when he was a child

The designers’ interest in fashion and clothes lead him to being bullied at school for appearing to be gay. Sadly, his childhood was a pretty cloudy one and he was known to be a nervous child who frequently took time off from school.

3. He was born in Algiers

Yves Saint Laurent was born in French occupied Algeria and didn’t move to France until he was in his late teens. He first came to prominence when he won a design contest organised by the International Wool Secretariat. It was then that he came to the attention of Christian Dior, who hired the young designer on the spot.

4. He served briefly in the army

He was called up to serve in the army in his native Algeria, but he only served for about twenty days. The army wasn’t the place for the young designer and he suffered a nervous breakdown and was transferred to a French Mental hospital, suffering from stress.

5. Cristian Dior sacked him

When Yves Saint Laurent returned from his ill-fated brief spell in the army, he found that his job with Cristian Dior was no more. The news came as a big shock to the designer, but he went on to set up his own designer label and eventually collected £48,000 in compensation from Dior.

6. He once posed naked

The designer shocked the fashion world when he posed naked in 1971 in an advertisement for his own cologne for men, Pour Homme. The picture wasn’t especially targeted at gay men, but it is said to have had a strong resonance within the gay community.

7. He was the first living designer honoured by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1983, YSL was honoured by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York city, with his own, solo, exhibition, the first living person to be given such an honour.

8. He suffered from mental disorders and addictions

His childhood and army experiences had a marked impact on his life and Yves Saint Laurent had a lifelong battle with bi-polar disorder, alcoholism and drug abuse. According to his lover, Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent was crazy with happiness one day and black with depression the next.

9. He feminised male fashion

Famous for the “Le Smoking” tuxedo jacket and for his see-through blouses, Yves Saint Laurent has also been credited for feminising the entire male wardrobe. He was one of the first designers to bring cutting and shape to the male wardrobe.

10. He is credited with empowering women and ethnic minorities

Yves Saint Laurent has been credited as the person who democratised fashion and making it available to more people. He was the first designer to use models from ethnic minorities and his designs brought looks to women that had only previously available to men.

Do you want to share some other facts about Yves Saint Laurent?

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Stay happy!

One Comment

  1. Melissa
    July 13, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Great facts!

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